HCA debate on Empty Property

July 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Latest News

The Homes and Communities agency is hosting a debate on empty property on their Showcase website. The debate ‘How  do we maximise the use of empty homes?’ runs from 12th July – 30th and aims: “to address key challenges that local authorities face, highlight innovative practice and generate practical solutions to help the sector bring more empty homes back into use”. The Showcase website features a series of films from housing experts – including Canopy Co-ordinator, Steve Hoey – designed to spark debate around the issues involved in bringing empty homes back into use.

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MOD criticised over empty properties

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Other News

Almost 8,000 homes for Armed Forces families are standing empty despite the Ministry of Defence spending £17m a year renting substitute properties reports Housing News.

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Early Day Motion on Empty Homes

November 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Other News

Conservative Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps tabled an early day motion noting that of the 784,000 homes which are currently vacant, 327,000 have been empty for a period of more than six months; despite the presence of 1.8 million families on the social housing waiting list.

The motion calls for an end to Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) and the adoption of a less bureaucratic approach to the use of empty dwellings.

The motion can be read here: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39460&SESSION=899

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Self Help in Action – Phoenix Housing Co-operative

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Latest News

Ray hard at work

Ray hard at work

For an anticipated cost of just £6,250 per property, Phoenix Housing Co-operative, based in London’s East End, has brought back into use four long term empty properties at social rent levels under a Service Level Agreement likely to last for 5 years.

The properties, long empty due to chronic rising damp resulting from a fractured Damp Proofing Course (DPC) had been declared ‘long term management voids’ because their owners, Poplar Harca Housing Association, judged the expenditure needed to bring them back into use ‘uneconomic’ given that the block has a limited future lifespan.

Beginning work in May 2009, Tower Hamlets-based Phoenix worked with volunteers to bring the ground floor flats back into use for a fraction of the £30,000 per flat previously quoted to the housing association, whilst also providing organised work experience and practical skills guidance for the volunteers.

Co-op Manager, Alison Masterman, explains: “The Phoenix Housing Refurbishment initiative is really very simple and we think very elegant: take a housing co-op populated by people who have experienced homelessness, who are committed to self-help and to creating homes for the next generation of those in need; and combine that with a bit of technical ‘know how’ to bring empty properties back into use at a fraction of the market cost. We can see no reason not to run with this idea, to seek more funding, more support, more partners and in doing so expand opportunities – that is the opportunity for a stable home and the skills from which to thrive.”

Three volunteers have already secured employment: one as a general handyman in a large hotel, another as a self-employed plasterer and another as a bathroom renovation contractor.

Two volunteers describe their experience of working on the projects: “I have become empowered. Learning skills like rendering and plastering has added to my skillset”, says Ray Clarke (pictured). John Walker agrees: “It’s hard to express all the rewards you get from working on this project!! Volunteers who have
given their time usually spend much more than they originally volunteer, which goes to show the
tangible benefits members get educationally, socially and, dare I say it, spiritually.”

Phoenix Project

Phoenix Project

When Phoenix began work on the properties on the ground floor of a 1929 brick built mansion block in London E3 they were without kitchens, bathrooms, and heating. Using recycled, donated and non-toxic green materials a new injection DPC system has been completed including re-plastering and decoration. Kitchens, bathrooms and heating have been reinstated. All of the work was fully registered with the Health and Safety Executive and supervised by a qualified Site Manager.

Phoenix Community Housing Co-op was established in 1980 in the East End of London to provide short life accommodation in shared supportive communities to single people on low incomes who were in housing need. It now operates mainly through taking on short-life properties from large housing associations such as the Peabody Trust and Poplar Harca in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, although overtime it has also acquired 17 properties that it now owns. It currently manages 155 short life units, a combination of shared street properties and self-contained estate flats.

Phoenix is currently seeking funding and more properties. It aims to expand on the concept of bringing empty and dilapidated properties back into use through self-help development in exchange for medium/long term (5 – 30 years) housing leases. This may take the form of larger more ambitious schemes, with bids for Temporary Social Housing Grants in partnership with a local housing association and/or developing the building skills and work experience element into more formal opportunities for working with vulnerable people needing housing.

For more information about Phoenix Housing Co-op email Alison Masterman at mail@phoenixhousing.co.uk or visit www.phoenixhousing.co.uk

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Shelter Cymru Empty Homes Project

August 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Other News

For those of you who might have missed it,  Shelter Cymru received a Social Housing Management Grant for 2008/09 and 2009/10 to carry out an all Wales project on empty homes.

They are working with local authorities, developers and decision makers to get empty homes back into use.

This is more evidence that self help housing and getting empty properties back into use is the way forward for neighbourhood renewal and affordable housing shortages.

The latest project update can be found here:

http://www.sheltercymru.org.uk/shelter/advice/pdetail.asp?cat=20

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